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Child getting school food

Childhood obesity

Improving food culture and provision in schools

We're working to transform the food environments in inner-city schools to ensure students have access to healthier, more nutritious food throughout the day.

Key partnership information

Partner: School Food Matters

Funding amount: up to £1.8m

Duration: December 2019 – December 2024

Programme: childhood obesity

What activity we’re funding

Through this project, campaigning charity School Food Matters will work with local primary, secondary and special schools in local areas with high levels of childhood obesity to improve school food. Over five years, the project plans to work with around 80 schools in Lambeth and Southwark to create sustainable change to the food provided at breakfast clubs and after-school clubs, as well as support the development and implementation of school food and hydration policies which puts children’s health first.

By working in partnership with school communities, local authorities and organisations providing school food, the project aims to create sustained long-term local impact on school food environments, as well as to influence food and drink policy at local, regional and national levels.

As a response to COVID-19, we also worked together to provide free healthy breakfast boxes during school closures. Each box was filled with two weeks’ worth of healthy breakfasts including fruit, wholemeal bread, baked beans, Weetabix and fresh milk. The boxes were analysed by a public health nutritionist to ensure that they meet the School Food Standards.

COVID-19 response with School Food Matters

500,000

More than 500,000 healthy breakfasts delivered to families

165,000

As well as 165,000+ lunches

108

schools supported with healthy food provision during the pandemic

The families and I are thrilled with the service and we greatly appreciated the delivery yesterday

Local parent on receiving free breakfast boxes

Aims of the partnership

  • More schools meeting the School Food Standards throughout the school day, not just at lunch
  • Reaching around 80 schools located in areas with high childhood obesity rates and making the food on offer healthier for the long term

The aims of the partnership will be updated as the evaluation progresses.

Connection to our strategy

We know many of the causes of, and some solutions to, the issue of unhealthy food in schools. We want to deliver projects where we can have the biggest impact on reducing the childhood obesity inequality gap through addressing these, both in terms of local delivery and informing policy at a national level.

Since we launched our childhood obesity programme, we have funded a mix of projects to help us better understand what childhood obesity looks like in our inner-city setting. Within our schools strand of work, this has focused on working within schools themselves and with local stakeholders to understand what the food environment looks like for children.

Through that work, we realised that, for complex and varied reasons, many schools do not meet the School Food Standards, which are designed to support schools to provide nutritious meals for children that encourage healthy eating habits.

After finding this out, we wanted to deliver a project that improved the healthiness of food in schools. At a minimum, this means reaching the School Food Standards, ensuring school food includes fresh fruit and vegetables, and balanced meals with correct portion sizes.

In 2017, we partnered with School Food Matters on a small project to focus on the food environment in three schools, before co-developing this significantly larger project.

More about School Food Matters

School Food Matters is a registered charity with a mission to ensure that every child enjoys fresh, sustainable food at school and understands where their food comes from. School Food Matters campaigns for better school meals and food education for all, to improve children’s health and happiness.

Visit the School Food Matters site
Rebecca Sunter

Have questions about our partnership with School Food Matters?

Rebecca Sunter leads our work on improving food culture and provision in schools

Contact Rebecca to find out more